Seniors, Diet and Choice
Hilary and Greg Eldridge
Elder Care in Johns Creek GA
Open up just about any magazine, blog or browser, and there will undoubtedly be an article touting the most recent diet breakthrough. From The Werewolf Diet, the Five Bite Diet, to the Baby Food Diet, there is one “expert” that swears this is the answer to man’s ever present question: What is the best diet? While fasting in accordance with the lunar cycle or trading a meal for a can of baby food is certain to lower one’s caloric intake, it does little to address individual needs. With no two fingerprints alike, does it make sense that any one diet would be best for the majority? As unique creatures with the gift of awareness, it’s up to each individual to listen to their body and decide what is best for them.
Diet and the Elderly
“I use to love sardines,” “I haven’t had a fig in years.” Unfortunately, these are not uncommon sentiments coming from the elderly population. One of the first responsibilities that very well-meaning family and friends takeover is meal preparation. Some will prepare a week’s worth of meals and freeze them so that all their loved one has to do is defrost. Others will come in daily and, with determination that rivals Hercules, prepare a meal that’s been weighed, categorized and measured. Incredibly kind gestures. Then why does the recipient not seem as appreciative as expected?
Life is filled with choices. To a large degree, it’s the determining factor as to how each life unfolds. What is regret but a mind dwelling on past choices and saying, “oops.” As limbs become less reliable and memory wanes, children, with all good intent, begin making choices for their elderly parents. And the elderly parent begins to feel a loss of control. Reminding them that they had to make choices for their children as parents only serves to reinforce the certainty that the tables have turned and the life that both parent and child have known has inexorably changed.
Middle of the Road
As a child of an aging parent, it’s important to remember that while a balanced diet is critical to good health, having a say in that diet is critical to mental health. Taking a middle of the road approach and easing into the topic instead of rushing in headlong can turn a troubling situation into a bonding experience. Sit down together with a cookbook in hand and ask them to share what recipes excite them. Look though the Sunday newspaper at the coupon section to see what jumps out at them. If a home care provider is assisting with meal preparation and other activities of daily living, they will be happy to ensure the parent feels empowered by accepting suggestions and taking the time to communicate regarding their needs. If it’s been decided that an apple a day needs to be incorporated into their diet, start with the question: “Mom, do you prefer Macintosh or Granny Smith?” Giving the gift of choice can go miles towards improving an aging parent’s outlook on life and instill positive expectation as to what lies ahead.
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